crow's nest

A crow built a nest outside our window and a couple of days ago, it laid eggs!

It has been simply delightful watching our crow friend and we’re looking forward to hatchlings.

Nairobi feels different than when I left in 2020. Many shops and restaurants closed. A lucky few expanded.

I was heartbroken to discover metal gates shuttering Silk Noodles and Canton Snacks near Argwings Arcade. They were my favorite Chinese restaurants.

Michael noticed one Google review mentioned Silk Noodles had relocated. So last evening, we ventured out to find the new Silk Noodles.

What we discovered was a Chinatown!

Nairobi Chinatown

chengdu restaurant

chinese real estate

spirits and wines

Chinatown was a massive complex filled with restaurants and specialty shops.

The main grocery store stocked authentic ingredients. They even had zha cai, a vegetable I’d struggled to find in Vancouver!

Dinner at Silk Noodles was delicious, as always.

I went to Nairobi Textiles and got some awesome kitenge fabric. Can’t wait to start sewing with them!

kitenge fabric

Nairobi Textiles is a cool place. It’s a small building with many independent vendors selling fabric from their stalls. A lot of tailors also work there, ready to turn new purchases into custom clothes. The fabric are more expensive there than in Eastleigh but more affordable than say, in Canada.

The atmosphere reminded me a lot of Lotus Pond Market in Chengdu (colorful and crowded). Though, I haven’t visited Lotus Pond Market in over a decade so I’m sure a lot has changed.

If you’re buying fabric in Nairobi, I’d recommend a visit, but allow ample travel time: it’s in the heart of CBD and many Uber drivers don’t pick up there.

I’m having a real “time is circular” moment.

It’s been almost 8 years since I wrote Python scripts to create stuffed animals using 3D models from video games. Now that I’m getting back into sewing, I’m discovering a whole new world of software for pattern makers.

CLO3D is the industry standard, offering advanced cloth simulations.

Valentina is the best open source alternative (GPL3!).

With FOSS tools, some are just as amazing as their non-FOSS counterparts while others are a little lacking. For example, I think Blender is entirely able to replace Maya and 3DS Max for a hobbyist animator. The same is true for Krita replacing Photoshop for illustrators. OpenSCAD and FreeCAD are not quite able to replace Solidworks for engineers.

I have very limited pattern making experience so I’m not a great judge for pattern making software. If cloth simulation is critical, then Valentina needs a lot more features to be able to compete with CLO3D. If cloth simulation isn’t super necessary, maybe Valentina would make an adequate substitute.

Either way, I’m loving learning about the ecosystem around sewing and making clothes. Sewing is a craft that dates back to ancient days and has neat jargon (like armscye). At the same time it’s been really modernized with the industrial clothing supply chain. It also has a fascinating digital component, like the transformation from flat pattern making to pattern making software.

It’s so cool!

I recently picked up sewing as another pandemic hobby. When making my first cami, I realized I needed a loop turner for turning straps inside out. Not having one on hand, I searched for good substitutes. YouTube suggested using chopsticks, safety pins, and bobby pins. Unfortunately, none of them worked.

Harry suggested I use a zip tie. I was initially skeptical but zip ties worked great! You can sew one end to the head of the zip tie and pull without worry!

diy loop turner

Posting this for anyone else who’s too impatient to wait for a loop turner.

Harry and I started making hand pulled noodles for the New Year!

noodles

Although we’re still mastering the pulling, the flavors and textures are quite good.

If you’re looking to get started, check out the recipe from Xi’an Famous Foods:

I’m taking a Swahili class and it’s awesome!

In particular, I’m loving the bits about linguistics. I’m really enjoying all the classifications of sounds and phonemes, especially “ng” (ŋ) and “ny” (ɳ).

These two sounds are challenging for me so I’m doing a lot of practice. Turns out ŋ is in English too, so this is definitely helping me distinguish “thin” from “thing”.